Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.
Another BYU Football Media Day came and went earlier this week with the usual mixture of optimism from players and coaches and the annual mild criticism from some media outlets that the Cougars’ have set their goals too high, their dreams too lofty.
It’s like clockwork every June in Provo, and has been since BYU held its first solo media day in the summer of 2011 — before its first season as a football independent.
What else are the Cougars supposed to say? That they won’t be any good and will be lucky to win a handful of games?
This particular event lacked any substantial news, after weeks of conjecture that BYU and ESPN might announce a new television agreement when the Cougars had the national college football spotlight on them.
Didn’t happen, although athletic director Tom Holmoe said a deal is imminent in a pre-recorded statement. Holmoe was at a long-ago scheduled family reunion and unable to attend the festivities for the first time.
Here are some other stories generated by media day:
• I focused on how calm and collected head coach Kalani Sitake continues to be, knowing that his tenure at BYU is at a crossroads heading into his fourth season at the helm.
• My follow-up article focused on the running back situation and included video interviews of the two graduate transfer running backs, South Carolina’s Ty’Son Williams and RIce’s Emmanuel Esukpa.
• The Cougars received from good news two days before media day as they landed a couple of offensive stars from the prep football ranks, American Fork receiver Devin Downing and Sol-Jay Maiava, a dual-threat quarterback from Washington, D.C.
• Here’s the Deseret News’ recap of media day, which focused on how BYU sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson is well on his way to recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
• The Provo Daily Herald also detailed Wilson’s return to action.
• Darnell Dickson of the Daily Herald offered this perspective on how important confidence will be to BYU’s prospects this season.
• Sean Walker of KSL.com profiled the new graduate transfer running backs in this piece.
One of the common themes at media day focused on the Cougars’ opener against Utah, and how having the rivalry game as the first game of the season has affected preparations. Sitake doesn’t downplay that impact:
“This is the energy our players are giving off. It is nothing that I have manufactured,” he said. “This is what they have done organically. It is nice that the guys are excited about it, and I think that is something you can easily get excited for, but these guys are really excited that this opportunity comes sooner than it would normally. So, it is a really good team we are opening against. There is a lot of respect for Utah and what they’ve done. You know my connection with the school. There is a lot of respect for them. This is going to be one of the best Utah teams of all time. And so what a great opportunity for us to see where we match up.”
• BYU announced that it will introduce a new game day fan experience for home football games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, beginning with the season opener Aug. 29 against Utah. The experience will be called “Cougar Canyon” and is sort of BYU’s version of tailgating.
Directly west of the stadium on Canyon Road, Cougar Canyon will open three hours before kickoff and will feature inflatables, autograph signing by other BYU teams, live bands and DJs, a large LED video board showing other college football games and BYU highlights, and food trucks.
There will be photo opportunities with former BYU football greats and a Team Cougar Walk, as players and coaches walk through the area on their way to the locker room.
• It wasn’t the best timing for a basketball announcement, but BYU officials put it out anyway in the middle of media day. The Cougars have agreed to a home-and-home series with Boise State. The first meeting will be at Taco Bell Arena in Boise on Nov. 20. The second game will be played in the Marriott Center in Provo in 2020 on a date to be announced later.
BYU owns a 9-4 advantage all-time against Boise State on the hardwoods, but the teams haven’t met since 2008, a 94-56 BYU win in Provo.
• In BYU baseball news, senior right fielder Brock Hale and sophomore shortstop Jackson Cluff were both named to the ABCA/Rawlings West All-Region Second Team. Hale led the team with a .330 batting average, 67 hits, 11 home runs, a .571 slugging percentage, 38 walks and a .460 on-base percentage. Cluff, who recently signed a contract with the Washington Nationals after being taken in the sixth round of the MLB draft, led the team with 57 runs, 30 doubles, three triples and 56 RBIs.